One Huge Victory for the Delta – Two More to Go

In the fight to save the Delta, we just scored one big win for the Delta as a place – for boating and recreation and for some of the most critical waterfowl.

Apparently, we “killed” the Central Corridor/Through Delta Route !!!

The Single Tunnel project has been designing two alternate routes, or corridors: The Central Corridor (the same as the WaterFix Through-Delta Alignment) and the Eastern Corridor. We thought we’d killed the horrible WaterFix but here it was back renamed the Central Corridor.

And as we know with this beast, we think we’ve killed it again and again but it comes back as a beast with two heads.

Apparently, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) is applying to the US Army Corps for a permit to build the single tunnel along the Eastern Corridor. The application is not focused on the Central Corridor (closest to Mildred Island, the Bedrooms, and Discovery Bay) but instead is being reconsidered for the Eastern boundary. This is more encouraging than what we expected … so hurrah for our team … that was one big “field goal” to residents of Discovery Bay, Eastern County, and those who use Highway 4 … but we still have the rest of the game to play. The bad news is intakes #3 and #5 are the preferred route as well. And there has not been the scrutiny or analysis of the Eastern Route to know all of the issues there.
The US Army Corps Section 404 application for the Delta tunnel is available here …

The map of the project in the application is below. (NOTE: If the map looks skewed to you, that’s because they rotated it so North is to the left. Weird.)

By not chasing the Central Corridor as the construction corridor, that removes the concern that Delta Boating and Recreation would be SIGNIFICANTLY impacted by construction noise, dust, night lights, and barge activity. Not what you want when you’re trying to anchor out for a peaceful Delta outing. It also means they won’t be building on Staten Island which is home to Sandhill Cranes and migrating waterfowl. The idea of construction on that island was horrible.

The idea of a huge construction project, trucks, people, new haul roads, through the center of the estuary has always been unimaginably horrible. If that option is truly off the table, your Save the California Delta Alliance team can breath a collective sigh of relief.

There are still other issues to struggle with.

Eastern Corridor Still Has Impacts

While selecting the Eastern route means Delta Boating will continue and wetlands through the center of the Delta will not be impacted, the Eastern Route still goes on Delta islands, impacting farming on Roberts Island, Victoria, and others. Since construction will occur are Delta islands, there is still impact to migrating birds and wetlands. This route has gotten much less attention so impacts have not been clearly delineated.

Maps of the Eastern Corridor route. Eastern Corridor is detailed on pages 44-65.

Far Eastern Route is being Ignored as an Alternative

There was an alternative route recommended by the DCA Independent Technical Review Committee in 2020 and the same route was also recommended by the WaterFix Independent Scientists in 2010. Now, as then, DWR refuses to even evaluate that route.

Information on the Far Eastern I-5 route is here.

FIRST MAJOR ISSUE REMAINING: Northern Intakes are still a huge issue

The locations chosen to build the intakes are the same as WaterFix which were rejected. Yet DWR continues focused only on those sites because they have an existing water right there. They will need to pull a new water right and not build intakes in a location that would be so devastating to the legacy historical towns of Hood, Clarksburg, Cortland, and Locke.

SECOND MAJOR ISSUE REMAINING: Pumping water AROUND the Delta instead of flowing through it is a bad idea

The concept of any tunnel removing water before it can flow through the Delta is not good.

2 Responses to “One Huge Victory for the Delta – Two More to Go”

  1. 1 Mark Goble June 20, 2020 at 2:55 am

    At least it appears someone with a little common sense showed up at the DWR, theres no way the Central route would have worked, or come close to the budget. The East route wont come close to the budget, but the tunnel might be possible to dig at least.
    Ive got one burning question though, maybe someone there coukd answer. Why does it have to be a tunnel? I get it cant be a canal, because the voters turned that down in the 1980s, and someone might notice and get mad…
    But why not a pipeline? Run it down hwy 5 and they wont even have to buy alot of land.
    Tunnels that arent through rock are very susceptible to earthquake damage, moreso than peat levees unless massive grout tubes are added (picture a hairbrush).
    Anyway, seems like alot better idea and alot cheaper. And Metropolitan could use the savings to pay for a book on Desalinization, maybe learn about something other than sneaky water grabbing…

    Thanks for the update!

  2. 2 john armstrong June 20, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    Impressive – sounds like you’re really on top of it. One of the best killers of LA and central valley agribiz water theft I’ve seen is ARC’s stated goal of 100% of LA’s water needs met by recycled wastewater by 2035. Of course, that’s a ways off, but it’s something to look forward to. ARC is a division of WRD – water reclamation district in Pico Rivera (LA subcity). They give tours thru this state-of-the-art facility when re-opened from the corona scare and I’m anxious to take that tour!

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